Non-GMO Coffee: Behind the Certification - Allegro Coffee

Non-GMO Coffee: Behind the Certification

Posted In: All Posts, How We Source


When genetically modified foods were introduced in the late 90s, an initial wave of popularity was supported by a positive narrative from brands and farmers incorporating GMO foods into their offerings. In 2007, the non-GMO project was created, a certification that gave consumers seeking food that comes from the ground, not a test tube, a clear label to look for. While we carry the non-GMO label on our coffees, there are several components to non-GMO coffee that often go misunderstood.


What is non-GMO coffee?

Non-GMO coffee means that the coffee has not been genetically altered in the breeding or growing process. Carrying the non-GMO seal on our bags can lead to the misconception that if it doesn’t have the seal, then it is GMO. But that’s not true with coffee. Other certifications, like Certified Organic, have a labeling structure where if a product has the seal, it’s organic and if it doesn’t have the seal, it’s not. The difference in coffee is that all coffee is inherently non-GMO.

Compared to other crops, coffee is one of the most under researched crops in the world. There hasn’t actually ever been any coffee that’s been genetically modified. Nobody (or no brand) has put in the resources to develop it.

Photo Courtesy of World Coffee Research


What about new coffee varieties, how are those created?

Coffee varieties are developed using traditional farming methods like cross-breeding. This happens in nurseries with real coffee plants, not in test tubes. Coffee is actually so under researched that organizations like World Coffee Research are pioneering coffee research, creating new coffee varieties that can hold up against climate change. But this is still a non-GMO practice.

Photo Courtesy of World Coffee Research

Why use the non-GMO seal?

If all coffee is non-GMO, why use the seal? Great question. You can find our coffee down the aisles at Whole Foods Market, a company who has made a conscious decision to carry only non-GMO foods. As a distributor to WFM, it’s easier for consumers to see us on the shelves with the non-GMO label, instead of leaving it off, creating uncertainty and questions. If you’re concerned about avoiding non-GMO foods, make sure to pay attention to what you are adding to your coffee, like milk and sugar, and sip easy knowing that your coffee is always non-GMO!

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